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If You Screw Up My Food I Will Love You Forever

I have two different restaurant experiences in the last month that both have the potential to teach us a pretty big lesson. 

Example 1. Last night my wife and I went on a date. During the date we visited a restaurant called The Village Tavern. Food was pretty good. Nothing special. But worth a revisit sometime. Maybe. 

But, that wasn’t the lesson. During the visit my wife received her food at a normal time. About ten minutes or so after we sat down. Just right. Her salad was pretty good. I had a bite. Our server informed me that my food had also been ready but someone had dropped it on the way out to bring it to me. Honestly, I didn’t care. I wasn’t starving. I can stand to wait. But, what he missed was a chance to blow me away. I think he might of been implying that he’d give me free food when he said, “would you like to order something else while you are waiting?” I said no. Didn’t want to pay for it. Didn’t want to appear cheap by asking, “Will I have to pay for it?”

A few minutes later the manager rolled around. Super nice guy. He apologized. I had already forgiven. But, he missed a chance to make me a fan of his restaurant. 

What he and the server could have done was say, “We want to get you an appetizer for you while you wait -on us. Which one would you like for us to bring you?” They would have had to make me take the offer. I’m pretty shy about those things, but I would finally done so. Maybe they could have thrown in a desert too. 

I’m not saying that they should have done this, but that they could. What would have been the result? I would now be a raving fan of their restaurant. I would have told my friends. I bet my meal would’ve tasted better as a result of my enthusiasm. I would be back. Now? Not so sure. Because I’m angry? Not at all. Because I wasn’t impressed. No one chose to impress me.

Why didn’t they make this move? I think it’s because they do not believe in their brand enough. If you believe that your brand represents excellence and “wow” then you will refuse to leave any chance to exhibit excellence and wow to your customers. Really, It’s the manager’s manager’s fault. He or she isn’t creating a culture where the brand is viewed as something special, something to protect at all costs. They must not believe it themselves. It must just be a job. Village Tavern must just be another restaurant. That’s what they must believe. Now, with their help, so do I. 


Strengths. But that was too easy.

On an earlier blog, I talked about the importance of strengths in personal success and in effectively leading others. The main point I attempted to make in that blog was that you can tell what your strengths are (partially) by finding the kind of work you like to do. The emphasis was and is on the fact that the true test of a strength  isn’t so much related to the finished product as it is to the sweat and tears you have to give to create the product. In this blog, I want to look at the other side of the coin. Often, it is hard for you to see your strengths because they come so easy to you that you don’t see them as that big of a deal.

Maybe you are a great writer, but you can’t imagine that making any difference on the planet or you especially can’t imagine earning a living doing it. It’s just too easy. No body would ever pay you for that. This is a natural blind spot that prevents us from seeing our strengths. They are so easy to us, so much fun often, that we can’t imagine that everyone wouldn’t want to do it. “Of course I want to write for a living. Who wouldn’t?” 

Let me tell you about one of my strengths. Maybe it will help you believe in yours a little more. Or at least see that each of our strengths represent a place where can make (and should be making) a significant impact on the world. 

If I could make a living doing any thing in the world, it would include breaking out my Greek New Testament, my Hebrew Bible and several lexicons, journals and commentaries and doing hardcore exegesis for several hours a day. I’m pretty gifted at it, and I absolutely love it. How much fun does that seem like to you? While there are probably exceptions, most of you would rather pull your eyes out. Often though, it is tempting for me to think that this is just play. It’s not real work. So, I shouldn’t hope that it becomes my real work. It’s just too easy for me.

Hopefully, my point has been made. Don’t allow the easiness of the tasks your gifted at doing make you think they aren’t significant strengths. Instead, remember that is because the work is so easy to you that you can know that it really is a strength. 


Do You Want the Work or Just the Dream

I am enamored with strengths studies. I’ve read all the books (StrengthsFinder 2.0, Go Put Your Strengths to Work, and lately, StandOut). I believe it is truly a source for helping yourself and others discover success. It should be a big part of attempts as leaders to get the most out of our people. 

The best studies on strengths assessment suggest that your strengths are combination of ability and passion. You have to be good at it. You have to love it. Without both elements you are not talking about a true strength.

Here’s one extra idea on determining your strengths and others: Do you love the idea of the dream or the work? 

It’s easy to imagine a great out come and think it fits you. Of course, the dream fits. Most dreams fit most people. I could dream of being a NFL football player (late bloomer!). But, do I want to go out and do that work? (And of course, ability plays a big part.) 

This is something that the Apostle Paul mentions when determining the validity of a candidates for the leaders of a Christian community. He wrote in a letter to his most famous pupil, Timothy, “If any one desires the work involved in being a overseer.” Notice it doesn’t say the position of overseer. That would be a poor translation of the Greek sentence Paul originally wrote. Paul goes onto to describe the expectations for a person in this position, but he starts by talking about a love for the actual work involved.

So, when you think about your strengths and others, try to figure out something you could do 60-80 hours a week. Unless your answer to that riddle is “sip margaritas in the Bahamas,” you may be getting close to figuring out your place and your unique purpose on this planet.


If You Screw Up My Food I Will Love You Forever

To catch up read this blog first. 

Example 1 was the negative. Now for example 2. 

My wife was just getting over a chemo treatment. At this point she could ask for anything on this planet and I would go and find it. On this night, she asked me to use one of the gift cards we had received for Red Robin and get some burgers. The real thing she was craving though was campfire sauce. It’s a Red Robin sauce that dripped from heaven. We eat it on our fries. I called in the order and made sure to emphasize that we really wanted campfire sauce.

When I got to Red Robin, I went to pick up my order from the bar. Nice guy greeted me there with my food in a bag. The order was to-go. I have been here before. Restaurants often forget the extras on to-go orders. So, I asked him to make sure there was campfire sauce in the bag. He replied, “If it’s on the ticket it’s in the bag. They wouldn’t miss it if it’s on the ticket.” 

I responded, “If you’re sure.” 

He replied, “I’m sure.”

Got home. Emptied the bag. No campfire sauce. THERE WAS NO CAMPFIRE SAUCE.

Usually, I’m not the call and complain kind of guy. But I had been at work all day and my chemo stricken wife had made one request -campfire sauce. AND I HAD ASKED THE SERVER TO CHECK ON IT. I called and complained. I told the host who answered my call I just wanted to make the managers aware of what had happened so it didn’t happen again.

An hour later the manger called me back. I relayed the story of what happened.


Before I go on, this is the moment of truth. What had happened on this occasion was much worse than the experience I had at the Village Tavern. I had asked the specifically if the sauce was in the bag and it wasn’t and he didn’t even check. 

Plus, on the other side of the coin, we are just talking about sauce. It’s really good sauce but its just free sauce. What will happen?


The manager asked me to bring my family back any time and he’d comp our meal. When we made it back in a few nights later, he not only took care of our meal, but he made us get appetizers and deserts as a part of it.

Do you know how many times my family said wow that night? There were times tears were almost shed. We don’t usually get to eat like this!

Now, I’m a raving fan. The food? It’s ok. Not much different than the Village Tavern. Probably not as good but a bit cheaper. But, I’m a fan.

This manager took a mistake and turned it into a chance to blow one of his customers away. He was successful. I don’t know for sure, but I bet if you were to ask him about what he believed about his brand, you’d hear a lot about doing whatever it takes to help his customers. The experience has to be amazing every time because that is what our brand stands for. And when we miss the mark by falling below the standard we have to go above the norm that much more to compensate for the miss.

That night the Red Robin manager probably spent $15 of cost for his company on my family. What did he buy? Two life long fans.